Little Rock As a protest and oppositional movement this is gentle fare. Reading Mike Lux’s manifesto there’s almost an apology to the President, while raising a hand from the back of the room in objection, but a protest this is, and a serious one, as good people and some sound, Nobel prize winning economists, raise the warning signs that the bailout may be little more than an backwashing to billions into the gaping, greedy maw of Wall Street again. It is worth reading his opening shot at
Open Left:: A New Way Forward
These are some good people both in front of this effort and behind it. And people like Mike, Zephyr Teachout, and others have real skills and a way to go email to email, website to website, facebook and twitter to facebook and twitter, with the Administration savants to build a viral base, even if there is still a long gap between that and boots on the street. A re-evaluation and a demand for both transparency and — in my view — justice in these matters when it comes to the gazillions for the banking bailout are past due. Maybe an appeal to hearts and minds like this has to happen first before banners are pulled out and signs are made, so this is worth attention and support.
The simple facts that are hard to distinguish are that the American people are simply not getting enough for our money on this bailout. This is not necessarily the argument being made by the learned economists, and I worry about this being too much of an in-crowd versus out-crowd situation there, so I don’t have a dog in that hunt, but after decades in the close hand-to-hand combat with banking institutions from my decades with ACORN, the federalization of finance is still focusing too much on a couple of right-sized pay packets, and not enough on what we are getting — and need — in the way of a new federal finance paradigm that serves citizens.
Why are there not incentives and lending programs to accelerate access to suddenly more affordable housing? Why are there not wide scale foreclosure solutions rather than the continued arguments, delays, and rationalizations inherent in the old system? Why are we not seeing fundamental reform in banking practices, fees, and transparencies that move the entire population forward?
A public investment should yield some real public good. This is why a New Way Forward is attractive to me.
If we are finally reasserting our stewardship in providing the important progressive pressure to move the Administration to where it needs to be and deliver real results for citizens, then the honeymoon is over, and we need to get back to doing the hard “relationship” work that is going to be needed to produce sustainable and significant change over the next 4 to 8 years. That’s our job, and it’s time to get about it.
Events are beginning to kick off all over the country now, and we need to step up and get involved.
As a postscript, I was reminded of some of the good reasons for this in reading Frank Rich’s column this morning in the pre-dawn as he notes some of the unsettling conflicts of Lawrence Summers: “Some spoilsports raise the conflict-of-interest question about Summers: Can he be a fair broker of the bailout when he so recently received lavish compensation from some of its present and, no doubt, future players? This question can be answered only when every transaction in the new “public-private investment plan” to buy the banks’ toxic assets is made transparent. We need verification that this deal is not, as the economist Joseph Stiglitz has warned, a Rube Goldberg contraption contrived to facilitate “huge transfers of wealth to the financial markets” from taxpayers.
That’s the least we should demand. I would like to see us also demand the most we should be able to expect as part of a “new way forward.”